Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What's a holiday without tamales?

This is a tamale (or tamal) made by the wife of my dad's co-worker. She's from Guatemala, and she makes great traditional Latin American foods, all from scratch. She even butchers chickens herself. I heard that one whole chicken makes about 10 tamales, and this time 10 chickens lost their lives. That's a lot of tamales. Kudos to her. R.I.P. chickens.

Here you'll join me in unwrapping tamales, step by step.

Step 1. Unwrap the foil or whatever it's wrapped in.
Step 2. Good, now another layer. Guatemalan tamales are wrapped in plantain leaves, unlike Mexican tamales that are typically wrapped in husks (although it varies by region). Anyhow, open it up.
Now you finally see the naked tamale, made with masa, chicken, plum, olive, and chili. Every part of the chicken was used, so I guess I can say that life is like a box of tamales, you never know which part of the chicken you're gonna get. Haha.
Move on...
Step 3. Om nom nom! Guatemalan tamales have a very soft texture and sweet, rich flavors.

By the way, it's quite difficult to take pictures of the food while eating it at the same time.

Monday, December 26, 2011

It's Christmas Time Again

I didn't do anything special for Christmas this year. Well, not that my Christmas was bad, but I mean there literally was nothing special about my Christmas this year.
I hosted a little dinner party for my family and a friend. Since my family was pretty tired of meat and turkey, I just made spaghetti, salads, and crêpes à la mode for dessert. And we also drank hot apple cider, which is sort of like our little family tradition. Then we watched a Christmas movie together, of course. (You know what, Love Actually is really a great movie, it's probably the only romantic comedy movie I actually enjoy watching.)
By the way, I made the centerpieces with the materials I got from Dollar Tree, where everything is a dollar. Holidays should be cost efficient, right?

Hope you guys had a merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Glaze

It's one of those recipes that are almost pointless to put up because it's so simple, but here you go, anyway.


Mozzarella cheese
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper


1. Chop basil leaves into small strips. Season sliced tomatoes and sliced mozzarella cheese with olive oil, pepper and salt. Scatter the basil on top.
2. Bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally,  until thickened to a syrup-like consistency.
3. Spoon glaze over Caprese salad.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ham & Egg Crêpe Squares

Been waking up so early lately. Strange. Anyhow, so I made this mini savory crêpe for breakfast this morning. It's really quick and easy to make. First, make a basic crêpe, then just crack an egg and place a slice of Canadian bacon. Fold the edges. Voilà. (Here is the basic recipe for crêpes.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Boat Parade

My first non food related post. Yayy.
I went to the 103rd annual Newport Beach Chrismas Boat Parade last Sunday.
Despite the cold weather it was crowded with people.
Any spot with a good view was already taken. Not to mention that it was really hard to find a parking spot. The place was packed with people.

The parade began around 7 PM, I think. Such a shame I couldn't capture all the amazing sights. I wish I had a zoom lens! Sorry about the crappy pictures.

My favorite was the SpongeBob decorated boat. (You can also see Patrick dancing on the boat.)

The parade lasted a couple hours.
It was pretty entertaining to watch the parade, but it was also fun to just walk and look around.

There was this landmark ferris wheel of Balboa Fun Zone...

And also a bungee trampoline. The guy there was so nice and friendly to kids, at first I thought he was their uncle or something, haha. He was so good at making kids laugh. Aww.

I wasn't able to take decent pictures, but I had fun regardless.
Now I wish I have a zoom lens. Or a boat. Or both.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Breakfast Rösti / Hash Browns with Eggs

Actually I did not get breakfast in bed. I woke up early in the morning, made myself a quick breakfast in the kitchen, then brought it into my bedroom. Nobody brings me breakfast in bed, it's the sad truth. I wish I have a hubby (or a butler, at least) who brings me breakfast in bed every morning!

Anyway. My quick breakfast simply consisted of a cup of tea (from The Coffee Bean, but the mug is from Starbucks. This is called staying as neutral as Switzerland), a few slices of orange, and rösti/hash browns with eggs on top.

To be honest, I really have no idea what to call this dish. What is the difference between rösti and hash browns? They're basically the same, aren't they? Well, I know that rösti is Swiss and hash browns are American. However, according to the Idaho Potato Commission, hash browns may have developed out of rösti. I'm totally confused. I googled "what is the difference between rösti and hash browns" but I still couldn't figure out the difference between rösti and hash browns besides their names. (Is it like the difference between a pan and a skillet?)

Okay, maybe it doesn't matter. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. It's just potato. Anyhow, here's how to make this "simple and tasty potato cake" step by step.


Butter or olive oil (olive oil is a healthier choice than butter!)

Optional: onions, ham, bacon, cheese, etc.


1. Peel the potatoes. (I used raw, starchy Russet potatoes.)

2. Grate them until your arm starts to feel paralyzed.

3. Squeeze water out of grated potatoes so they won't get gummy later.
4. Heat butter or oil in a pan, add grated potatoes and season with salt and pepper.
5. Cook until the bottom is golden brown. Place a plate on the potatoes and flip over.
Mmkay, mine wasn't exactly golden brown, but it was fine.
6. Add the eggs on top.
7. Cover the pan with a lid.

The eggs should be cooked in a few minutes.

Garnish with parsley and serve.

The eggs were cooked just the way I like them.

My rösti/hash browns weren't golden but rather gray. I'm not sure if it's because I did so poorly on step 3. It tasted fine, though.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Just-Throw-Them-All-In Meatloaf

Meatloaves are tasty yet easy to make. I made this meatloaf with some leftover BBQ sauce and whatever I could find in the pantry.


(For the meatloaf)

1.5 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced 
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk
and a little bit of everything including:
honey dijon mustard
garlic powder
dried herbs

(For the glaze)

1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 cup ketchup


1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
2. Throw everything in a large bowl.

2. Mix well.

3. Form the mixture into a loaf and bake for an hour.

4. Mix ketchup with BBQ sauce. Pour the glaze over the meatloaf.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Norwegian Parsley Potatoes

After making chicken kiev, I had a lot of leftover parsley and didn't know what to do with it. Then I found this great Norwegian Parsley Potatoes recipe from Taste of Home website while surfing the net. What an awesome way to use up leftover parsley. This is such a quick and delicious side dish. My family loved it. I'll definitely make it again!

Prep/Total Time: 25 min.

Ingredients (6-8 servings) :

2 pounds small red new potatoes
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram


1. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water for 15 minutes or until tender. Cool slightly.
2. With a sharp knife, remove one narrow strip of skin around the middle of each potato.
3. In a large skillet, melt butter; add parsley and marjoram. Add the potatoes and stir gently until coated and heated through.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 cup) equals 183 calories, 12 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 31 mg cholesterol, 124 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 2 g protein. 

Originally published as Norwegian Parsley Potatoes in Taste of Home February/March 1994, p31 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Skinny Chicken Kiev

This is a healthier, simplified version of chicken kiev, based on a recipe from Diabetes UK.  Now you can enjoy this tasty dish without feeling guilty, by leaving butter out and baking instead of frying. It's also really quick and easy to make, of course!

Ingredients (3 servings) :

3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 cup soft cheese, grated (I used mozzarella)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons garlic & herb powder
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 cup flour, seasoned
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 teaspoons olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF / 200ºC.
2. Make a slit along one side of each of the chicken breasts, to form a pocket, making sure you don't cut all the way through.
3. Mix together the cheese, parsley, garlic, and garlic & herb powder and divide between the chicken pockets. Close the chicken pockets and secure with a cocktail stick.
4. Dip each chicken piece in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.
5. Drizzle over the oil and place on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the filling is beginning to ooze out.

Serve with potatoes, vegetables or salad. Om nom nom!